There’s a fog of ambiguity growing ever thicker behind the murders of Chris Stevens, the US ambassador to Libya, and three diplomatic colleagues when their consulate in Benghazi was overrun and destroyed three days ago.
The fuse that ignited the attack – and sparked the all-too-predictable, viciously anti-Western mayhem across much of the Muslim world, which will no doubt continue unfettered for some time – was a tacky, tasteless film, entitled ‘The Innocence of Islam’, mocking the prophet Muhammad.
Originally, it was touted as being the handiwork of an ‘Israeli-American’ called ‘Sam Bacile’ (imbecile more like it) until the Associated Press tracked him down to southern California and revealed his likely true identity – Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a convicted fraudster.
The man appears to be a 55-year-old Egyptian Coptic Christian rather than an American-Israeli, as wrongly claimed in earlier reports. And, according to The Atlantic magazine, a ‘consultant’ working on the project confirmed Bacile was a pseudonym and not an Israeli.
If this proves correct, the devious motives of Nakoula/’Bacile’ could be interpreted as those of a dangerous maverick agent provocateur, seeking to discredit one religion and lay blame on another.
A 14-minute trailer of the movie – reminscent of the controversial cartoons published in a Danish newspaper in 2006 – is reported to have been posted on YouTube in June. Yet it has taken two months for incandescent rage to be whipped up and the shoddy, shamateurish film’s provenance to be investigated.
One fact is telling about the date of the storming of the US legation in Libya, the killings of Ambassador Stevens and subsequent outrage that exploded across Muslim lands: it happened on 9/11 and the 11th anniversary of the mass slaughter in 2001 of over 3,000 innocent civilians on American soil.Small wonder then that intelligence sources believe the seminal date is no coincidence. And the angry, spontaneous protests, they say, were no such thing, but carefully pre-orchestrated demos, inspired by Islamo-fascist extremists to celebrate the anniversary of the dastardly attacks, hailed by many in the East as a victory over the West.
The response to the blasphemous movie also calls into doubt President Obama’s policy of appeasement towards the Muslim world at a crucial moment when he bids for re-election.
Many Americans – Democrats as well as Republicans and the vacillating undecided – aren’t convinced the words of rapprochement of the Obama administration are worth the paper they’re written on and wonder whether their first black leader is a reincarnation of Jimmy Carter, arguably the worst President elected since World War Two.
Carter’s one-term presidency was torpedoed by his dithering over the 1979-1981 Iran hostages scandal, how to counter the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and his mismanagement of the economy, when the country was suffering from ‘stagflation’, in which inflation was high, growth low and unemployment soaring (sound familiar?).
Like Carter, despite his slick rhetoric, Obama displays all the hallmarks of being too soft on America’s foes and failing to master a flagging economy.
Although still marginally ahead of his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, in the polls – and lucky he’s not facing as formidable a challenger as Ronald Reagan was for the inept Carter – seismic incidents, like the slaughter of US diplomats abroad and sustained attacks against American missions in the tinderbox of the Middle East, could blow him off course.
Obama has two months to right the ship of state, but as British Prime Minister Harold Wilson once tellingly observed, ‘A week is a long time in politics.’